Program Details

Political Parties: The Real Reason People Dislike Washington
(Rescheduled from Monday, Jan. 3 to Tuesday, Jan. 4 at 3pm 

Bill Thomas
Video Catch-up

Course Description

There isn’t much Americans agree on. But that changes whenever the topic is Washington. In poll after poll both Democrats and Republicans call the nation’s capital “dysfunctional,” “broken” and beyond repair. The reason given is politics, specifically, political parties. I’ll be talking about the two major parties: how they began, how they’ve changed, and how competition between them dictates the way Washington works…or doesn’t. Consider the Civil War, the most traumatic event in U.S. history. It was a war between the states, but it was also a war between the two parties. By examining four presidential elections—1860, 1912, 1932 and 2016—we’ll see how partisan rivalry at various times has transformed the nation, not to mention the world. So much so that party politics today is no longer about compromise, as the Founding Fathers hoped. It’s about revenge.

About the Instructor

  • Bill Thomas, author and veteran journalist, has been a reporter for The Baltimore Sun, a columnist for Roll Call and The Hill newspapers in Washington, and an editor and writer for the London-based Economist Group. He has authored or co-authored several books, including “Red Tape: Adventure Capitalism in the New Russia”, (Dutton) and “Club Fed: Power, Money, Sex, and Violence on Capitol Hill”, (Scribner's). Thomas, who's lived in Russia, wrote about the collapse of the Soviet Union for The Los Angeles Times and covered ensuing conflicts in three ex-Soviet republics. His articles have appeared in Vanity Fair, The New York Times Magazine, National Geographic, and many other publications.

Upcoming programs presented by Bill Thomas.

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